Rewriting Books
I looked up the movie Robin Hood on the IMBD website to see how many times studios had remade it. The entries went on for pages, and I could not count them all. The remakes included full movies, comedies, shorts, television series/episodes, television movies, recreations, cartoons, and tie-ins. Even Mel Brooks spun his version.
Our culture loves reliving a classic story, but what about re-releasing a book? I cannot recall a single book that another author has re-released. Of course, there are condensed, plagiarized, and children’s versions. Also, there are allowed re-releases that correct errors or freshen a story to modern ethics. The result is never an altered plot or character.
What if I want to write my version of Harry Potter? The copyright owner would never permit this. What if I was mega-rich and purchased the copyright? Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by Bill Conrad. Sounds like a good read. Right? Even if I came up with an astounding update, it would not impress readers. They would be angry because my recreation trashed a beloved work.
What about reimagining an old classic? The Iliad by Homer was never copyrighted. How about the Iliad by Bill Conrad? I could spice it up by adding a few goofy characters. Umm, no. How about a horror version? No! Comedy? No!! How about a comedy movie? Wait a minute. That sounds great.
What is the difference? I took some time to think about this inconsistency and developed a plausible answer. A book is an anchor that holds a story in one place. Movies are a level above books because they are visual, and this distance allows them to change the fundamental story. Another way to look at this is that a book represents the story’s core, so the plot and characters are not allowed to be altered. Perhaps this resistance to change causes us to treat books as sacred documents.
This resistance makes little sense because society loves to mess about. There are dance, holiday, R&B, country, foreign language, parody, and covers of almost every popular song. Owners and car companies modify, upgrade and transform their cars into every conceivable creation. Artists copy, alter, parody, counterfeit, and reimagine every kind of artwork. Lawmakers copy, distort, reimagine and invent new laws, rules, and jurisdictions daily. Business copy, reinvent, resell, rebrand, recycle, and mass-produce products all the time. Yet, there is a solid line with books.
Hunt for the Red October by Bill Conrad? Wow, that sentence even angers me. If I saw that book in a store, I would yell at the owner, “How dare you put this filth on your shelf!”
Is not having rewrites bad? This is another forbidden area that authors dare not approach. We traditionally treat all barriers as bad. Yet, for readers, it is nice to have a constant. After much thought, I conclude this resistance to change is good because it adds credibility to authors. Now if it only led to more sales…

You’re the best -Bill
August 09, 2023
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